Type-94 Shiranui Joint Strike Package
Review by VF5SS
The Type-94 Shiranui plays a pivotal role over the course of Muv-Luv Alternative's story as it becomes the main mecha used by Takeru Shirogane and his squad of visual novel heroines turned soldier girls. This has made it a popular subject for Muv-Luv merchandise and as such gets the lion's share of figures. This sleek 3rd generation Tactical Surface Fighter is known for its beautiful lithe form and ample amounts of weaponry. It's the kind of combination of form and function that makes me giddy.
Members of the Special Task Force A-01 "Valkyries" participate in the operation to retake the island of Sadogashima from an occupying BETA hive.
Following up on my review of Volks's original A3 Type-94 Shiranui is my in depth look at Volks's second time around with this popular Tactical Surface Fighter design from Muv-Luv Alternative. The original version was good looking but marred by awkward and limited articulation. Two years after the initial wave of A3 figures, Volks started to find their bearings with the line and decided to remake their Shiranui figures using everything they had learned since they began.
Please check out my video review in where I cover both the old and new Shiranui.
I want to start off by looking at the packaging as most buyers will be getting this from secondhand shops. At a glance the box is really similar to the original Shiranui with the main differences being the two digit number that shows this is one of their "Limited" releases and a picture of the toy with all of its accessories.
While all the weapons and equipment were originally split up between the three Shiranuis from the 2007 wave, this "Joint Strike Package" comes with everything in one box. They even have a handy picture of all the accessories. Sadly this does not include some of the extra bits that were made available in a separate weapons pack.
If you're looking at a Japanese web shop and can't read the tiny English text, just look for the number on the package. Three digits means its one of the original releases and just two means its the Joint Strike Package.
Reflecting the all inclusiveness of this release, the back features pictures of all the members of the Valkyries as well as a guide on how to recreate each of their Shiranuis.
Why there's even a picture of Takeru the bratty savior and his noble confidant Meiya.
You also get a sheet of uncut decals featuring everyone's tail code. I guess it's a shoulder code in this case.
At first glance the first version of the Shiranui (left) and the new version (right) look about the same. As one of the limited releases, the new one has a UN marking tampographed on its shoulder.
One oversight with the new one is that the cockpit hatch is painted in dark blue rather than light blue.
The initial run had some quality control issues like this messy paint around the head crest.
Also one shoulder pauldron had some excess glue on it.
To rectify this mistake, Volks sent out a free replacement Shiranui to anyone who bought the Joint Strike Package set. These came in a plain white box that contained just the main body with a pair of splayed hands and those little knee fill in parts installed.
The replacement figure (right) corrects all the quality control issues.
I actually didn't know about this replacement program for the figure and was genuinely surprised to receive two Shiranui's in the mail. I guess that explains why the shipping was higher than I expected!
I'm pretty pleased with this unintentional army building. They all look good together as a group.
From the rear it's slightly easier to tell the new figures from the one old one as they have a different waist that features more black detailing that hides a new point of articulation. Unfortunately the thinness of the Shiranui's antenna means they tend to be bent in slightly different ways on each individual figure. I haven't tried to fix it yet but a little bit of warm water may be able to get all their little rabbit ears back into shape.
Again very little has changed appearance wise and that's a good thing in this case. The Type-94 Shiranui is a handsome design and Volks's sculpt captures it quite well.
Those knee fill-in parts are still there and they are still superfluous. Take a good gander because you will not see them for most of this review.
The Joint Strike Package version of the Shiranui is more than just a re-release with more accessories as it features completely revamped articulation. For example, the arms feature a slew of new joints including a fully functional bicep swivel and an extra hinge that allows the shoulder armor to tilt up and down. The elbow are has also been re-sculpted to allow the arms to bend much more easily. Volks added an extra ball-joint where the neck meets the head so the Shiranui can look left or right in a more natural manner.
Much of the new arm articulation is accomplished using A-Lock joints. This allows the bicep to not only swivel but to also move the arm outward without moving the main shoulder joint. The only downside to this is all these A-Lock joints in close proximity are fighting for space. As a result some of them have short pegs that can lead to an arm popping off when posing. Everything reattaches just as easily though. Also note that the entire upper body can be pulled upward so the Shiranui can turn its waist a full 360 degrees.
Volks also added an extra joint in the waist which lets the Shiranui tilt its torso back.
All of the changes work together go give the figure a suitably dynamic look.
The legs are mostly the same but benefit greatly from revamped skirt armor that hinges at the back of the waist rather than right in the middle. The skirts are attached via a metal rod and move smoothly with the motion of the legs.
The biggest advantage of the new skirt setup is there is no longer a cumbersome joint right in the middle that knocks into the thighs when posing. Combined with a new set of double A-Lock joints in the ankles, the new Shiranui appears far more agile as befitting the design.
This Shiranui can kneel down in a much more natural manner.
Those bicep swivels even allow it to pat its and and rub its tummy at the same time! The old one can only hope to achieve such heights in the area of multitasking. Clearly it was not upgraded to the new XM3 operating system.
The new Shiranui also replaces the simple swivel joint arrangement for the jump units with a pair of A-Lock joints with a blue connector sandwiched between them.
While this new setup does give the jump units a lot more flexibility, it can become loose where the A-Lock joints plug into the blue piece. This can be easily fixed by thickening the pegs a bit.
Overall this revamped figure can go the extra mile in capturing the feel of this mass-produced war machine that carries an air of heroism about it.
As the name Joint Strike Package implies, this Shiranui comes complete with just about every weapon it can carry. All of these accessories were initially spread across the first three A3 figures so you had to buy all of them just to get a full set of equipment. Most of this stuff I've covered in other reviews with one notable addition.
When the Shiranui needs a little extra long-range firepower it can be equipped with a pair of shoulder mounted missile launchers. Like on the previous figure, you simply slide open a door on top of the shoulder pauldrons to expose a hole for plugging in the missile launchers. Each one also has a matching fire control radar thing that attaches to the end of each shoulder.
Each end of a missile launcher slides forward and then flips open...
Revealing a bank of missiles. Each missile has a shiny read warhead that matches the blood that spurts out of an exploding BETA carcass.
The supplemental armor shield is also included. This time it has a UN marking tampographed on so you know this alien beat down was fully approved by the United Nations. The revamp Shiranui figure is much more capable of delivering some close range klonking than the previous one.
Even the standard hands with knives look more aggressive now that the Shiranui can properly bend its arms inward for CQC stance.
The extra arm joints really help out with sword swinging.
It's a bug war out there.
So without further ado I will go over the different loadouts as shown on the back of the box. Since Tactical Surface Fighters are meant to fight large groups of BETA aliens at a time, they need to function as a tightly knit unit where everyone contributes towards helping the whole.
First up is one we've seen before: Gun Sweeper! These Shiranui carry a full compliment of four assault cannons and plenty of extra ammo so they can rake their gunfire across the battlefield.
As an side I had been asked about what's a good display stand for A3 figures and recently found that a Tamashii Stage Act 5 works very well with them. You just hook the smaller grabbing claw around the hip joints to let your Tactical Surface Fighters show some three-dimensional maneuverability.
A Rush Guard deploys with a long-range assault cannon and two regular ones. A designated marksman can use this setup to assist the Gun Sweepers and keep the advancing BETA from sneaking through the suppressive fire.
The support type assault cannon is a great looking accessory that borrows its look from the famous FAMAS assault rifle.
Kaiyodo's Revoltech Shiranui also came with this weapon. Volks's second time around with Shiranui is easily as articulated as its smaller and more stylized cousin.
Impact Guards carry a single long-range rifle and one sword. They focus exclusively on sniping enemies to keep the squad safe. The sword (sometimes called a melee halberd) is there in case of emergencies.
A Gun Interceptor carries one assault cannon, one sword, and one shield. These machines are tasked with keeping an eye on the other members and helping them out if necessary. Flight leaders are usually outfitted as Gun Interceptors.
This load out probably the most iconic for the Shiranui.
Fighting out in front of their squad are the Storm Vanguards. Going out with a shield, two swords, and an assault cannon these machines focus on fighting the enemy up close and keeping them at a comfortable distance from the rest of the squad. Only the most able and trustworthy pilots are assigned this prestigious position.
A Strike Vanguard swaps out the shield for an additional assault cannon. Their role is the same as they assist the Storm Vanguards at keeping the BETA at arm's reach. Some of those BETA have very long arms so it's not as easy as it sounds.
Lastly a Blast Guard goes into combat with a pair of missile launchers. They use their precision explosives to herd groups of BETA into the crossfire. While inside a BETA hive, the Blast Guards switch to bombarding the enemy directly.
The Joint Strike Package Shiranui is designed to be compatible with all of the equipment from the previous version so I can outfit both of my revamped figures with weapons and jump units.
Countries from all over the world contribute personnel and equipment to the UN army. This Shiranui is joined by a F-15E Strike Eagle from Volks's TMC line.
Only by working together does humanity stand a chance against the implacable BETA hoards. This means working with toys from all walks of Volks's catalog. Even that weird A-6J Intruder figure has to participate.
Oh we will get that that thing. Trust me.
In the end Volks did a great job at fixing all the shortcomings with their first Type-94 Shiranui figure. The Joint Strike Package offers fans a great all-in-one set that has feels like a satisfying purchase. Unfortunately the quality control issues mean some might come out looking a little worse for wear. This is offset somewhat by the existence of the replacement figures but for foreign buyers it may be difficult to confirm weather or not the extra toy is included when buying at secondhand shops. Also be aware that most of the Type-94 Shiranui toys use the old mold with the more limited articulation. Here's a quick guide to those that use the new mold:
Lastly the TMC Type-94 Shiranui. This line uses the same sculpts at A3 but the figures are cast in a lighter and more waxy looking PVC plastic. See my review of the F-15E Strike Eagle to see how a TMC figure compares to the equivalent A3 one.
And so concludes another look into Volks and their surprisingly expansive line of Muv-Luv action figures. There's still more to come as my heart is always ready to luv again.
|Posted 20 December, 2013 - 17:36 by VF5SS|